After a short two-week wait, Facebook is launching its anticipated Messenger Rooms video client. The free chatting platform, which can accommodate up to 50 people, is available to everyone on the Facebook website, the Facebook (or Messenger) mobile app, or the WhatsApp beta app. Surprisingly, you can also invite people without a Facebook account to join video chats.
Messenger Rooms are already well-integrated with the Facebook ecosystem. Most people will start video chats through the Messenger client, but you can also share or schedule large chats through your News Feed, Groups, or an Events page. And since Messenger Rooms comes with a mess of security features, it’s easy to limit the number of people per room, lock out strangers, or kick out people that you don’t like.
Facebook is trying to compete with services like Zoom and Google Duo, which are booming in popularity due to social distancing. It’s a smart move—Messenger Rooms is baked into Facebook, and it should appeal to regular people who don’t want to sign up for a new service or download a confusing new chatting client. Plus, Rooms already feels well-polished, and it even has some fun AR and virtual background tools.
Soon, Messenger Rooms will work seamlessly across Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Portal (the Facebook smart home device). Facebook is already testing its video chat tool in the latest beta build of WhatsApp, but the company hasn’t announced an official launch date for Rooms on WhastApp.